A Conceptual Review of Identity Integration Across Adulthood

Lauren L Mitchell, Jonathan M. Adler, Johanna Carlsson, Py Liv Eriksson, Moin Syed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Though Erikson recognized identity development as a lifelong project, most research on identity has focused on adolescents and emerging adults. Less is known about how the identity formed in adolescenceis maintained and adapted across the adult life span. The purpose of the present paper is to providea conceptual review and elaboration of Erikson's (1968) theory focused on identity integration, aconstruct that is particularly relevant to adult identity development. Identity integration describes theprocess of bringing together various aspects of one's self into a coherent whole, and the sense of selfcontinuityand wholeness that emerges as a result of these processes. Informed by the identity and lifespan development literatures, we present a conceptual framework that describes how identity integrationis maintained across the adult life span, and how it is reestablished when changing life circumstancespresent threats to an individual's identity. These maintenance and reestablishment processes help to supportadults' well-being and adaptation to major life transitions and stressful events. This conceptualframework is intended to facilitate research on identity integration in adulthood, a time of life that hasbeen less often studied in the identity literature but that can involve identity dynamics that are just ascritical as those in adolescence

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1981-1990
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental psychology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. Developmental Psychology. All Rights Reserved.


  • Adulthood
  • Identity development
  • Identity integration
  • Lifespan development

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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